The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) today expressed concern at the news that the Doomsday Clock has been moved a minute closer to Midnight. The symbolic clock now reads five minutes to midnight: a response to inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and climate change.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, responsible for maintaining the clock, stated: ‘Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed.’

CND General Secretary, Kate Hudson, has described the move as ‘a painful reflection of the faltering progress on nuclear disarmament’.

‘In 2010, there was a surge of optimism following President Obama’s high-profile commitment to global nuclear arms reduction and the signing of the New START Treaty. This led to the Doomsday Clock being moved back by one minute, to six minutes to midnight.

‘Yesterday’s move, however, is a painful reflection of the faltering progress on nuclear disarmament. The US’s continued insistence on its so-called Missile ‘Defence’ programme is derailing further disarmament talks as Russia feels under threat.’

The US is seeking to develop a “shield” to protect against incoming missiles, thereby enabling it to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. In doing so, the US is not only making a mockery of its commitment to disarmament negotiations, but it is provoking a new nuclear arms race. Russia has, in response, announced plans to develop a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of breaching the US system.

In addition to these worrying developments, the UK’s commitments as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have taken a back seat since the positive rhetoric of 2010, when William Hague stated, following the NPT Review Conference, that the UK pushed for the Conference to ‘strengthen implementation of the Treaty’s non-proliferation and disarmament provisions’.

CND welcomed this statement, but the UK is now ploughing ahead with replacing its own Trident nuclear weapons system. 2012 will see the NPT Preparatory Committee held in Vienna in May. If the UK Government and the international community are serious about disarmament, then bold steps must be taken towards credible, practical and binding treaties on nuclear arms reductions. Otherwise the Doomsday Clock will continue to chart our inexcusable failings, until the midnight bell tolls without anyone left to hear it.